Your Conference Packing List

I’m about to embark upon a really wonderful trip. Disney has once again pulled their magic strings and I find myself invited to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. This year, it is in Anaheim at Disneyland, so I am completely out of my element.

Pair this with the fact that the other women coming are all very organized, helpful, professional bloggers who have made businesses giving lifestyle tips. My contribution to the blogosphere is passive aggressive cookie selling and the worst cost-analysis ever of Thanksgiving Dinner. I provide the before content to their after.

And as I read their posts and see their pictures as they prepare for this trip, I realize how grossly unprepared I am for this, and really, most things. Most of the women have really lofty goals that I should probably emulate, but mine is simply to avoid public humiliation and arrest.

So in the spirit of earning my place, I present my—totally inadequate but realistic for me— packing list. I hope it helps. Someone.

1.) Clothes. In some form and combination. I have no idea what’s in your closet, and you have no idea what’s balled up in the corner of mine, so there you go.

2.) Camera. But I’ll forget to charge the battery and the SD card will be full, so I’ll pack an extra $80 to buy new ones at the airport gift shop.

3.) Some stock catch tech phrases. So when people start talking about things that I don’t understand, I can just drop some random sentence about who’s behind Bitcoin in a fake accent and then we’ll laugh and laugh.

4.) Corkscrew. Because when the Bitcoin bit fails miserably, I’ll have something to cuddle up to back in the room.

5.) Eyeliner. First see #4, then I can write notes with it because I will have lost all pens to character autograph sessions and restraining orders.

6.) Chargers. I will actually remember to take these, but because there’s no repacking list, I will leave them all plugged into desk outlets at the hotel as I leave.

7.) Scissors. Because let’s face it, I’ll forget the rain ponchos and even the large trash bags people use in a pinch, so I’ll end up cutting holes the small draw string laundry bags in the hotel closet. You’ll know it’s me because I’ll be wearing the plastic vest with the upside “Marriott” across the front and the shower cap from the bathroom.

8.) Photoshopped images on my phone of really awesome and clever things I didn’t make but pretend to blog about.

9.) Phone number for a really good copyright infringement attorney when one of the other attendees recognizes that I’m taking credit for her hand-forged Mickey pickle fork set as my own.

10.) My children’s Birth Certificates. Documented proof they’re mine since no one ever believes I’m legally allowed to care for other human beings let alone cross state lines unsupervised.

Now after I Instagram my shampoo and file off my fingerprints, I’m ready to go.

See ya real soon!

©2014 Tracey Henry

If you want to celebrate with me with a chance to win a $50 gift card from Kohl’s, see this post.

A few words on #DisneySMMoms

I’ve been to Disney so many times, I park in SubDiva 53.

I’ve been to Disney so many times, A Small World is sick of my theme song.

I’ve been to Disney so many times, my Fast Passes used to read, “You again?”

I’ve been to Disney so many times NASA has mistaken me for a moon orbiting the Epcot ball.

And in two weeks, I’m going again.

For 11 years we lived an hour’s drive from the park in Florida. Our kids were little, then big, but it was a place that grew with our family. Anyone who came to visit us wanted to go there. If a friend or relative went to Disney World on vacation, we’d meet them there for the day.

And then there were the media visits. I was so very fortunate to be able to write for the Tampa Times and attend many events and blog about them. I was so lucky to be a part of the very first Social Media Moms Conference in which there were just 16 of us who represented a small slice of the blogosphere—both Mommy and non-mommy—I still watch those women in awe at where their careers and lives have gone from there.

And the extremely complex, deep psychological reason why we keep going back? Because it’s fun.

This year I was just as thrilled to get an invitation the Disney SM Moms Conference next month. It will be held in at DisneyLand in California—a place I once visited over 30 years ago on a family vacation. I can provide no frame of reference, no helpful tips, no sarcastic lead-ins because it will be completely new to me.

And that’s okay.

In fact, it’s pretty awesome.

As parents, we are natural planners. Particularly when it comes to travel, we need things mapped out exactly so that we can pack and make appropriate arrangements for all the little and big people we are responsible for. We want to know what to bring, when we eat, what to wear, what we’re doing and who is going to be there. There are reservations to make, suitcases to be filled, magic to create. I get it.

But if anyone is searching for counsel on how to approach this trip, my advice is simple: with utter abandon. Suspend your natural tendencies to plan every aspect, and allow the many talented people who put this entire amazing, one-of-a-kind experience to handle the details. They are gifted in the art of surprises, and it’s a time like no other. If you’re bringing your kids, show them the beauty of spontaneity. Be bewildered together. I guarantee you will learn more, laugh more, and engage more with amazing women doing amazing things.

No matter if it’s your first time or your address is on the parade route, engage in the joy. The only thing you really need to bring is an open mind.

©2014 Tracey Henry

A weekend in New Orleans via Instagram

As a Catholic, I know darn well when Ash Wednesday falls. As a New Orleans non-resident, casual tourist and accidental hipster, I had no idea that Mardi Gras was not limited to the weekend before Fat Tuesday, and evidently we booked our Anniversary weekend getaway smack dab in the middle of the Crescent City’s biggest party.

This suggests that we are way cooler than we are, so here is a summary of our wonderful weekend via Instagram.

Every trip to New Orleans should begin here. If you don't have 6 inches of powdered sugar on your lap, you're doing it wrong.
Every trip to New Orleans should begin here. If you don’t have 6 inches of powdered sugar on your lap, you’re doing it wrong.
Bourbon Street looks so tame at noon. Leave now while you still can.
Bourbon Street looks so tame at noon. Leave now while you still can.
'Po Boys for lunch
‘Po Boys for lunch
Bloody Marys for lunch.
Bloody Marys for lunch.
Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop--the oldest bar in the U.S. (Suburban Diva--the oldest patron on Bourbon Street.)
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop–the oldest bar in the U.S. (Suburban Diva–the oldest patron on Bourbon Street.)
King Cake.
King Cake.
Better King Cake...
Better King Cake…
Where to your day in New Orleans.
Where to end your day in New Orleans.
Happy Anniversary. Bam.
Happy Anniversary. Bam.

©2014 Tracey Henry